Alrosa reaffirms investments in projects in Angola, at home

14th July 2017 By: Keith Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Russian diamond miner Alrosa has reaffirmed its confidence in the future of diamond mining in Angola.

“We see a lot of potential in our infrastructure projects, including those in Angola,” stated Alrosa president Sergey Ivanov at the groups’ annual general meeting (AGM) at the end of last month. “We have already signed documents on the establishment of a joint venture company for the development of the Luele pipe, the largest discovered over the past 60 years. Alrosa also plans to increase its share in Catoca Limited Mining Company up to 41%.”

Catoca currently produces 75% of Angola’s diamonds. It is an openpit operation that exploits the world’s fourth-biggest kimberlite and is located not far from Saurimo, the capital of Lunda Sul province. The mine’s proven and probable diamond reserves are estimated to be 130-million carats, and currently it is expected to operate for another 17 years, until 2034, assuming a depth limit of 600 m for its operations. The operation employs Russian technology to recover the diamonds.

At the AGM, Ivanov also stated that, while maintaining the main principles of its strategy, the group would make some adjustments and refinements. It would continue to focus on reinforcing its leadership in diamond mining and strengthening its position in the market. But, in a gradual manner, it would also cut costs and increase efficiency, including, if necessary, making changes to its structure and staff.

“The company needs to be reformed inside to have greater manageability and transparency,” he explained. “We are also [making] changes to the administrative staff, with a view to improving the company’s internal efficiency. We will modify business processes, improve the quality of managerial decisions and performance discipline and, of course, optimise costs. The quality of management in Alrosa must comply with the best world practices.”

He further highlighted that 60% of the investments made by the company last year were in its underground mines and key production facilities. In monetary terms, these totalled Rb16.5-billion (about $270-million). More than Rb7-billion ($120-million) was devoted to either the upgrading or replacement of equipment and Rb2.7-billion ($40-million) was spent on ancillary facilities. Nearly Rb5.5-billion ($90-million) was allocated to the construction of the Udachny underground mine. The Aikhal, Internatsionalny and Mir underground mines received consistent support for their existing facilities. The Mir mine reached its design capacity of one-million tons of ore a year and, with its proven reserves, its current life-of-mine is 40 years – to 2057.

The group’s Russian underground mining operations are concentrated in the Yakutia region, in the Republic (province or state) of Sakha. It also has openpit operations in Yakutia and in north-vwest Russia, in the Arkhangelsk region.